Big Think Competition

⚠️ Submissions for the 2022 competition are now closed   Watch the winning entries

A BIG thank you to everyone who entered our 2022 competition! We were delighted with the high quality and number of videos we received.

Watch our 2022 Winning Entries!

Enter our Big Think Competition!

We are inviting students across the UK to tackle one of our academics’ ‘big’ questions. These have been specially designed to challenge you beyond your normal school curriculum and get you thinking big about your subject and what it might be like to study it at university. Simply record a video of 5 minutes or less presenting your arguments, research, evidence or opinions.

The Prize

Our winners will receive:

  • £100 1st Prize
  • £50 2nd Prize
  • £35 Subject Commendations

Winners will also all be invited to Oxford for the day where they will get to discuss their entries with subject tutors, tour round with current students and enjoy lunch in our Wolfson Hall.

Law

Should governments be allowed to violate civil liberties when imposing lockdowns in order to save lives?

Submit your video below

Poor French Protestant

Languages

Is translating creating?

Submit your video below

English

Should the arts ever have a moral or political purpose?

Submit your video below

philosophy

Philosophy

What, if anything, is the fundamental difference between moral imperatives, like “Don’t kill innocent people,” and manners, like “Don’t speak with your mouth full”?  

Submit your video below

Politics

Should young people’s votes count for more than elderly people’s in elections?

Submit your video below

science

Medical Sciences

Is the brain a supercomputer?

Submit your video below

astrophysics

Physics

Shouldn’t we be using all our resources to combat the climate crisis, instead of using some of them to put people on Mars?

Submit your video below

Dinosaur extinction - Roger Benson blog post

Earth Sciences

What can Earth’s past tell us about its future?

Submit your video below

Engineering

Should machine learning techniques be used in safety critical engineering systems, such as self-driving vehicles?

Submit your video below

maths

Maths

Is Maths really the language of the universe?

Submit your video below

Meet the Panel

Law
Solene Rowan

Professor Solène Rowan teaches Law at St Edmund Hall, but has given taught at universities around the world- from Oxford to Paris to Tokyo! She specialises in private law, writing about topics like how to resolve situations where contracts have been breached.

Marie Leger

Marie Leger studies Modern Languages and Linguistics. She teaches the first and second year students at St Edmund Hall all about French translation and grammar. She also teaches French to students of all abilities at the University Language Centre.

Tom MacFaul

Dr Tom Macfaul splits his time between teaching and pursuing his own research. He is especially interested in early modern writers like Shakespeare and he has published books on this such as ‘Male Friendship in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries’ and ‘Problem Fathers in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama’. He is currently working more on the Romantic period, looking at authors such as Wordsworth, Keats and Byron. This questions draws on his own interests in how these writers respond to ideological and political changes in their work.

Jonny McIntosh

Jonny McIntosh is a lecturer in Philosophy at St Edmund Hall. He originally moved to England to study Maths and Philosophy, before then becoming a DJ for several years! Eventually he came back to Philosophy. He specialises in the philosophy of language, but is also interested in questions – like this one – about reasons and action.

Orlando Lazar

Dr Orlando Lazar teaches Politics and PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) students at St Edmund Hall. He specialises in the theory of politics, and he enjoys teaching students about this in their topics on Marxism and Feminism. His own research has looked at applying these theories to issues such as domination and power in the workplace

David Dupret

Professor David Dupret teaches Neurosciences to our students. His research group is looking at how the different regions of the brain help us use memories to guide our behaviour.

Carly Howett

Professor Carly Howett teaches Physics at the Hall but is also a planetary physicist who specialises in space studies. She helps to develop new instruments allowing us to explore the solar system and has been a part of several projects at NASA.

Roger Benson

Professor Roger Benson is a palaeontologist looking at dinosaurs and ancient mammals, but his work often takes him into the field looking at contemporary biology too. He combines these interests teaching Earth Sciences at St Edmund Hall.

Paul Goulart

After initially studying Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, Professor Paul Goulart went on to specialise in Control Engineering. He now teaches Engineering Sciences to our undergraduate students at the Hall.

Early Career Teaching and Outreach Fellow, Tom Crawford, better known as Tom Rocks Maths, poses in the Front Quad at St Edmund Hall

Dr Tom Crawford is tutor in Mathematics at St Edmund Hall but you might have heard of him as Tom Rocks Maths on YouTube. He uses his specialism in Applied Mathematics to produce accessible content on his channel, as well as working with the BBC and Numberphile.

To enter you must:

  • live in the UK
  • attend a state school
  • be in Year 11, Year 12 or Year 13

How to enter:

  • Send us a video of no more than 5 mins in length.
  • You don’t need any fancy equipment, you can film it on your phone if you like- we will be judging based on your engagement with the questions.
  • Your video doesn’t have to include your face if you don’t want – feel free to get creative! You could narrate a PowerPoint, record you drawing or even apply your TikTok-making skills…
  • Submit your video as an unlisted YouTube video or via WeTransfer when completing the form below.
  • Entries close Sunday 1st May.